Toronto Forma | 308m | 84s | Great Gulf | Gehry Partners

I'll risk stepping into the lion's den... Adma, what is your opinion on City Planning's alternative development concept for M+G, specifically the approach to heritage preservation?

...hopefully I don't get mauled. :)

I believe the heritage preservation issue, raised by city planning isn't the main one. Keesmaat is out of her league in this situation and doesn't want to appear as such. The congestion issue would have been the better lead complaint for plannings decision

Don't worry fedplanner, it's extremely difficult to be mauled by a lion without teeth and claws.
Toronto councillor crafting new deal for King Street condo project
The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Dec. 18 2013, 4:12 PM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Dec. 18 2013, 4:21 PM EST

A compromise is in the works for the controversial three-tower condo development on King Street West designed by world-renown architect Frank Gehry.

Toronto Councillor Adam Vaughan, who represents the ward that includes the site in the Entertainment District owned by David Mirvish, is recommending the creation of a 10-person panel that will seek a consensus on the plans and avoid a faceoff before the Ontario Municipal Board.

Mr. Vaughan plans to present a motion to create a panel of “prominent Torontonians†– selected jointly by city planning staff, the developer and the local community – at some point during this week’s meeting of city council, he told The Globe and Mail Wednesday.

“The two sides have dug in and it’s led to a stalemate. We are trying to reconcile the opportunity with the challenges,†Mr. Vaughan said.

Under the proposal, which requires council approval, the panel will report back to the city by March 20 of next year.

The condo proposal calls for three towers of 82, 84 and 86 storeys, with a total of 2,709 units. City planners and local residents have voiced opposition to the development. Planning staff take issue with the height and density of the project, as well as the potential demolition of four heritage properties that stand where the project would go.

Mr. Mirvish wants to see the project completed quickly in part because Mr. Gehry is now 84 and decided last month he would appeal to the OMB because of the difficulty he was having winning over city staff. The board has scheduled a pre-hearing conference for January.

At a committee meeting last month, Mr. Mirvish indicated that his group has spent $1-million on studies that say the project would not overtax the area when it comes to infrastructure such as sewers and transportation. He estimates that 60 per cent of the residents will walk to work in the neighbourhood.

At that same meeting, Mr. Gehry likened his distinctive design to “a candelabra with three candlesticks,†compared to the city’s other “lookalike†glass towers.

The proposal was forwarded to this month’s council meeting without recommendation by the Toronto East York community council.

If the plan is approved by city council, Mr. Vaughan said he expects members of the panel will be named early in the new year. If they cannot reach a solution, he said the proposal calls for the matter to go to mediation before it goes to the OMB.

With a report from Tara Perkins
… and if Council continues as it has, Vaughan's motion won't be introduced until tomorrow at this rate. There are still 20 held items in the queue ahead of this one. Unless it gets bumped or Council runs quite late…


Definitely a step backwards if the alternatives are put through.

This is the first time I've seen a detailed rendering of the building. Other than the warehouse this thing looks absolutely gorgeous. It wound be a shame if it weren't built.
An interesting twist!

One thing... The mediation before going to the OMB part doesn't make sense. Mirvish is already at the OMB and a pre conference scheduled next month.
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This is the first time I've seen a detailed rendering of the building. Other than the warehouse this thing looks absolutely gorgeous. It wound be a shame if it weren't built.

The city's alternative is the way to go. It's a fairly crude depiction, but the way it weaves together new and old is how things should be done in contemporary times--not clearing entire blocks of the old city like in the 1960s. The warehouse facade will look better with the paint removed and sash windows. The city's alternative shows that Gehry's architecture can still be as bold and prominent as you'd expect a Gehry landmark to be, with the heritage buildings intact.
An interesting twist!

One thing... The mediation before going to the OMB part doesn't make sense. Mirvish is already at the OMB and a pre conference scheduled next month.

Mediation is easily made part of the OMB process. When they have the pre-conference, they just tell the OMB, "We're talking about compromises," and the OMB will say, "Awesome! Give us a call when you need us again." And they can keep scheduling pre-conferences etc., even if all they're doing is telling the OMB, "We're still far apart on the heights but have eliminated the heritage issues." Think of it like a divorce judge happy to hear that the couple before him (or her) might just get back together after all.

The difference is that once it's in the OMB's hands, it stays there. So if TO and Mirvish make a deal, they tell the OMB and they effectively (typically) rubber stamp it. If there is agreement on some issues but not on others, the OMB will only have a hearing on the outstanding issues. The best OMB results I've seen are the ones where they use it as a mediation tool.

As a side note, I find the diametrically opposed views here interesting. Some think the shorter design makes sense and others think it's a twisted perversion of Gehry's aesthetic. I think the reality is somewhere in between. But I would note this, for all the fans of the proposed heights: those heights weren't put there to achieve artistic perfection but rather to off-set the design costs and generate profit. Make no mistake.
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A city working group is looking for “a way to say yes†to the controversial David Mirvish-Frank Gehry skyrise proposal on King St. W.
“We’re moving a report to refuse the building as it’s currently configured,†said Adam Vaughan, councillor for the ward that would become home to the proposed towers designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, in place of four heritage buildings owned by David Mirvish.
“We endorse the content of the building; we’re having trouble with the dimensions. We’ll be working with the applicant and some prominent Torontonians from the arts, architecture, planning and local community to facilitate, hopefully, a consensus,†Vaughan said, adding it was a way to avoid a showdown at the Ontario Municipal Board.
Working group info:

3. City Council direct that a working group be appointed by the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, and the local Ward Councillor and the applicant, composed but not limited to the following persons, or their representatives:

- the Local Councillor as Chair
- the Chair of Planning and Growth Management Committee
- City Planning Staff
- the Applicant
- Local Community (3)
- Local BIA
- Toronto Preservation Board
- Heritage Toronto
- an Urban Planner
- an Independent Architect
- an Art Administrator
- an Ontario College of Art and Design University representative

4. City Council direct that the work plan for the working group above include but not be limited to the following:

a. Confirming a terms of reference at its first meeting;

b. Reviewing and discussing the current proposal and the alternative approaches contained in the staff report (December 17, 2013) from the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, as amended, and to identify issues and concerns pertaining to the development of the lands and their impact on the community;

c. Reviewing issues including but not limited to the site development, neigbourhood context, managing growth in the area, internal configurations for the programme, external dimensions of the proposed development, the location of the buildings, infrastructure requirements and the issues related to the heritage resources on site;

d. Considering the construction and delivery of significant enhancements to the John Street Cultural Corridor, the pedestrian realm, and improving transit capacity of King Street West as they relate to the proposal;

e. Recording points of consensus and/or divergent points of view on issues;

f. Requesting City staff and the applicant to support the Working Group with any technical information that they may require, including but not limited to support for recording and writing the final report; and

g. Hosting at least one public meeting forum to obtain community feedback and that notice of this public meeting to be mailed to all residents within 120 metres of the site and any other individuals who have expressed written interest in the proposal so far.

5. City Council direct that following the working group process, a third party mediator be retained, if needed, (cost shared by the applicant and the City Planning Division) to review the findings of the working group and work with the City and the applicant to obtain a settlement on any outstanding issues, the mediator will be jointly appointed by the City Planning Division and the Applicant.

6. City Council direct that the findings of the working group be reported by the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, to City Council through the Toronto and East York Community Council, no later than the March 20, 2014 meeting of Council with any recommendations or potential settlement proposals that may emerge from the process.